Eating Disorders, Diet Culture and Body Image

20 May

We live in a world which is completely immersed in diet culture. We think about it, talk about it, shame ourselves into thinking we should follow it. It’s on TV, in magazines, on the internet. It’s in our workplaces and schools. Despite the rise in obesity, we have never been more fixated on minimising ourselves and being thin. It is held up as though image to attain which has nothing to do with health and everything to do with appearances and our self hate. If we loved ourselves or had a decent amount of self-esteem then maybe we wouldn’t have to try to manipulate our bodies into being something that they were not meant to be. I’m somewhere in my mid-twenties and I am not supposed to have the body of a child. I have hips and boobs and no matter how much I fight against that, biologically my body will always be that way.

I’m trying to find the words to talk to you a little bit about Eating Disorders, Diets and Body Image. It’s difficult because my Anorexia is not really about how I look but sometimes that’s how it translates. I think that’s true for a lot of people. To say that an Eating Disorder is about being thin isn’t exactly true. There are far better ways to get into a smaller size dress than starving yourself half to death and destroying everything in the process. I wanted to be thin but thin doesn’t really mean thin to me. Thin meant…less of me, a silent me, an apology. It meant a hundred different things but never really I wanted to be a pretty person who was adored by others for her appearance. Now an Eating Disorder and Diet are two completely different things but I suppose they are both fuelled on our feelings of inadequacy or unhappiness. When you put rules and restrictions in your life, you have to consider where those needs are coming from. Some people may say that some individuals need to be on a diet for health reasons. Their weight is causing them difficulties linked with obesity and in order to reduce those risks then lowering a person’s weight is the option available. What I would say is that that can be achieved by having a balanced diet which is sustainable and nutritionally enough. Being apart of a culture which makes you guilty for eating something is not good for anybody.

Yet my purpose is not to preach about the crappiness of diets, but to talk about how they link in with me and my recovery. I grew up in an environment where my Mother and other female role models (except for one) were constantly on a diet. I saw the ups and downs, the failures and brief successes. It was painful to watch but I am still watching. Decades have past and they are still in the same cycle. You’d think after the amount of time and energy they put into this they would at least have an understanding about what is good for them and what isn’t. When my Mums on a diet, she skips meals, lives on cereal for dinner, and when I question her and say “What would you say to me if I was doing that?” her response is usually “You have a disorder, I don’t”. The impact that her behaviour has on me though is ridiculous. She engages and I see it and I hate it but I am also jealous. She gets to still do that and I never can. I can’t pretend that my happiness can be found in a lower number anymore. Her actions tap into the eating disorder part of my brain and it clings on for dear life and all my reasons why I should recover or overwhelmed by the reasons I should not. I’m better at handling it now because I know her but it’s getting harder when there are more people engaging in this lifestyle. I spent the day with my Manager today who is currently under-going some kind of health kick. She says things that I don’t think she realises are ridiculously triggering for me. I suppose when I was unwell, she was used to me being able to talk about those things because I didn’t care if I was triggered. Now…when she tells me she won’t eat one type of wrap because they are higher in calorie than these other ones and I have those higher calorie (which are not actually higher) wraps sat at home in my cupboard, I pause and panic. Should I be eating those? I don’t want to be triggered by these things. Logically at times I know that I’m being ridiculous but Anorexia is a powerful disorder and those constant simple comments, hearing her talk about foods that used to be classed as my safer foods before treatment, well…they make me doubt myself. I am trying to fight through these thoughts and not let them alter my actions. I am trying to implement the tiny meal plan changes made by my care team but it’s hard to not think that I am wrong doing so. I am distrustful of educated people by uneducated words. That has to change because I can’t keep listening to something and taking it as truth because it aligns itself with the disordered parts of my brain.

I really hope one day that we’ll eventually see a shift from diet culture. Yet I suppose my message tonight is that we have to remember that diets and disorders are not the same thing. As much as I wanted to believe and the people around me still believe, an Eating Disorder is not a diet gone too far. It is a psychological illness. It is not about health neither is it about being a certain size. I struggle with my body image daily but it is not about my body as such, it is about things that felt wrong which I didn’t know how to verbalise. The body becomes the battleground because it’s easier to say and think that you’re fat than to acknowledge all the painful things that you don’t want to think about. I think our disorders are fuelled by the things that we cannot bear to say and it is only through figuring out what that is that we can begin to heal.

I hope your day has been kind to you.

Inspire yourself

19 May

Finding inspiration for recovery is not always easy. It is hard to un-peel the layers of the Eating Disorder and be able to see that something different exists. There are enough blogs and photos and stories out there, but if you cannot connect to it within your own heart, then all of those things are meaningless. You have to feel inspired in order for it to move you into changing you. Still, even if you find that spark, that thing that makes you want to be better, holding on to that is like holding water. It’s there for second but from the very beginning it is slipping between your fingers and it you don’t keep refilling it then it will run dry. I have felt that about my own recovery lately. I let the water disappear because I wrongly thought that once I made the decision to get well then that was all it was going to take. I didn’t think I needed to keep reminding myself why I was putting myself through it. By doing that, I took my eye off the ball, forgot the long-term goals and allowed myself to fall into the habit of surviving each day. It shouldn’t be like that. Life should not be getting up in the morning and then counting down the hours until you can bring it to an end. I lost my inspiration and became only motivated by fear but fear is not enough to learn how to make yourself properly live. It is only enough to stop you – to an extent – from diving back into starvation and medical crisis’.

When I saw my nurse yesterday, she reminded me that I needed to think about what I wanted at the end of all this. What was I hoping for? What was the point? I said some vague response but in truth, for me the point of all this is that I am tired of being tired. The wear and tear has broken me down and I don’t want to watch myself dismantle me and then attempt to put myself back together again. We talked about how easy it is for me to relapse, that I am only accountable to myself and that every time I make an excuse as to why I can’t challenge something, I’m only strengthening the Eating Disorder. In the next couple of weeks, I have to try to regain the weight that I lost. I hate to say it but I really don’t want to yet I know that that is the disordered part of my brain trying to get me under its control again. There was a reason I chose the target weight range that I did and even if it’s hard, I have to remember what those reasons were. I chose my weight range because trying to live below it was dangerous for me. I chose it because I couldn’t function that well when it was lower. I chose it because it was the only way that I could begin to be free. We like to think weight restoration does not have to happen, that it will be enough or even feasible to only change the thoughts. That’s not possible. Unfortunately we cannot override biology, even if we tell ourselves that we can train our bodies to withstand anything. It will tolerate us for only so long but there will come a time when it cannot sustain us anymore. It’s horrible living and feeling like your body is a ticking time bomb and all you are doing is waiting for the moment when it implodes. I’m fed up of that, aren’t you? I am going to have to learn how to trust my team and be willing to do what I am told. I don’t imagine it’s easy and so far I have not been able to act on the thoughts or plans that were put into place. I get so close and then talk myself out of it. I knew I was stubborn but the level of it surprises me sometimes. Somehow I have to use that stubbornness to help me rather than hurt me.

I have to keep moving forward and inspiring myself. I have to…we have to remind ourselves of what we’re even battling for. We didn’t choose recovery to make ourselves miserable, we did it because our Eating Disorders became something we began to not like anymore. It became something that didn’t facilitate the life we imagined for ourselves. Remind yourselves of that every bloody day.

I hope your day has been good to you.

Reclaiming what felt lost

17 May

When I wrote a couple of days ago I think I was feeling an overwhelming sense of lostness. I wanted to stop time and calm the chaos in my head down or withdraw from the world completely because it seemed too much to continue to ask myself to carry on fighting when I felt so tired. The CPA was unsettling for me because I am so used to not being questioned. I attend these meetings and am always told that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and I’m fine…but that wasn’t the case this time. I don’t think I was upset because I hadn’t realised that things weren’t great because I already knew that. I think it rattled me that they saw it and that when they looked me, all I could see was the frustration that they held for me. I imagine that I am boring now, just another person who will spend their lives relapsing and screwing up. I’m not bothered that it seems that I’m letting them down, I really couldn’t care about their expectations, what hurts is that…I am letting me down. Again. How many times will I say to myself that this will never happen again, only to let it happen again?

This weekend has calmed me enough to make me stop googling masters programmes in the states and planning my escape route. It’s not that anything has happened or changed but today I told myself that I needed to make a choice. I can keep living the way that I’m living and that will be fine, or I can stop letting people take away my power, find my voice and figure out how I move forward. I am done being passive in my treatment. I am done being made to feel like I am a person who is having something done to them. I forget that I am not 19 years old anymore stuck in a system that only knew how to lock me up. I haven’t been her for a long time. I have to work with the people around me collaboratively, rather than reluctantly. I have to listen to my nurse, see my dietician, keep my medical appointments and go to my groups because in this, in recovery, I don’t know better. I don’t know how to keep myself well because I’ve never let myself learn. All I have ever done is found excuses to run back to it. Community treatment was what this summer was about. That was supposed to be my priority above anything else so that I could be ready for classes in September. It hasn’t though. My work became more important, so did hiding, and pretending, and trying to make up for all the ways that I thought I had failed as a person. But you know where that’s got me? Absolutely nowhere. I can’t keep being this stuck, it’s too heart-breaking.

This week I am going to get my shit together. I am going to write a meal plan and I am going to stick to that meal plan because my way isn’t working. I’m also going to get back to writing just for me because I don’t do that anymore. I’m going to have some honest conversations, I think it’s about time and we’ll see what happens. It’s starting to feel like I have nothing left to lose and as terrifying as thought it is, it might be what I need to stop myself from fucking up anymore.

I hope your day has been kind to you.

Double blow days

15 May

My Eating Disorder appears to be kicking my butt right now. The last couple of days have not been easy on me. As I mentioned in my last post, I was going to be having my CPA yesterday. That happened and lets just say I was not prepared for what was going to happen in that room. Usually, it’s fine and I’m in and out of these meetings after 10 minutes with everyone telling me that I am doing alright and no real changes to make. I was expecting that but 40 minutes later I left the room and the picture didn’t quite match the one I had in my head. I thought I could wing it and no one would pay that much attention to all the slips that have been happening. I was wrong. When I got there, I sat outside in the waiting area with my CPN and her student. It was awkward and mostly silent. All I could think was that I have not see you for weeks and you have nothing to say to me? My anxiety was pretty high and I felt sick to my stomach, which is weird considering that I can sit in a room of hundreds of people, give a speech and not have that bother me. When they eventually called us, I smiled that polite smile that you do and listened to the nursing report from my key nurse. None of it was that shocking to hear and mostly addressed what has been happening since I’ve been under their care, the challenges and lack of progress. Yet she kept talking about this work that we have done and sessions that have happened but they haven’t. I’m supposed to have practical support but because of the way things have been with staff changes and annual leave, I’ve only had 4 since February. In terms of the psychological work and the relapse prevention stuff, I’ve had 2 sessions of those. It made it sound like there had been all this input but there hasn’t and so I just look like a failure and that I’m wasting my treatment time. Once that report was done, the doctor turned to me and asked me if I had anything that I wanted to say about that or anything in general. I tried to be honest, say that it had been a struggle but I still wanted the same things. I still wanted to go back to Uni, recover and live my life. She told me that currently it was clear that that wasn’t happening. That if I continued and didn’t turn it round right now, then I wouldn’t be going back to Uni. In addition I would just stay stuck and that if I got unwell again, there would be no bed on inpatient for me but a transfer to a medical ward for re-stabilisation and then discharge home. My response was great because I have no intention of going back to IP. I said that before I’d even left the ward…IP will never be an option again. Never. She looked like at me like I was a train wreck, someone who was just going to spend theirs lives relapsing. This is it. I have till September to fix this and if not then I guess I’m on my own. They asked about my weight and I couldn’t give them a number because I haven’t been in a few weeks. I said it had dropped a little, not much, it would be fine. She disagreed, it won’t be fine and reminded me how quickly I become undone at a certain point and how things can deteriorate. She asked me if I’d ever been able to gain weight in the community and I told her I’d never maintained in the community, I had tried and failed and ended up in hospital instead. Apparently that has to change too.
We talked about my hit and miss attendance at groups and that I was listening to the Anorexia when I didn’t go because I wanted to avoid that there was a problem.

The thing is as horrible as it was, everything she said was true. I think I just didn’t like that someone was seeing me and not this exterior that I built. My CPN was massively unhelpful though. When they asked for her input, she said that I had been through all services going and that nothing seem to work for me. I was still me. I felt like such a write off and I sat there waiting for them to just say it, that “We give up on you”. Instead my CPN talked about how we were working at looking at the positives in my life because I’m really good at finding the negatives. I didn’t know whether to laugh or scream at them. I acknowledge that there are positives in my life but some half assed attempt at CBT is not going to work with me. She then had the audacity to say that once I got going, regardless or my inability to ask for help that I was usually pretty open with her and in-depth about my feelings. I seriously don’t know whose appointments she’s talking about because they are certainly not mine. In our appointments the layout looks like this:

– How have things been?
– How’s the family?
– Longish discussion about some aspect of my work.
– Her telling me that I’ve been through worse and that it’ll get better. To look at the positives.
– Making another appointment.

The one thing she said that really annoyed me though was that I was so much better when I was at Uni. I was a different person and so much happier. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Uni, I love my classes and learning. I feel there is some purpose to my life. However last year I nearly killed myself doing Uni because I was so unhappy and so panic-struck because I was unhappy, despite doing what I thought was going to be the answer, that I never stopped. I ran around like an idiot, trying to outrun my sadness, having weekly meetings with my tutor just to get me through the days. I was having anxiety attacks, and restricting in my intake and barely sleeping and crying all the time or not feeling anything. Yet that was me happy? Is that what I’m supposed to be aiming to get back to? The bit before my hospital admission?

I left that room, that doctor and my team, walked up to my car and burst into tears. I was so angry and sad, then I realised that my lip was sore from the amount of times I had had to bite it to stop myself from yelling. I’m supposed to engage in my treatment and instead of feeling like I can do this recovery thing, all I could think was that I never want to even acknowledge the Eating Disorder, let alone talk about it ever again. I don’t want treatment. I don’t want help. There was no answer for what I did want.

I’ve calmed down somewhat today, but the next blow came when I went to the nurse for my bloods and weight appointment, and saw that I have now fallen out of my target range. I am seeing my ED nurse on Monday and I really don’t want to tell her. I don’t want them to start adding things back into my diet so that I gain weight. Despite all that I know and all that I’ve been through, it still terrifies me beyond belief. I still don’t want it and so I am unsure where that leaves me in regards to recovery.

It feels like I’ve been fighting so hard for so long and I’m just exhausted now.

I hope your day has been kind to you.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say

13 May

Today has been a pretty full on day. I’m knackered but it’s a good kind. I think I’ve felt more like me than I have done in a while and not all of it was an act. One of the things that I do work wise is that I share my story with people at training events and today was a pretty big one for us. It went really well and I guess I am reminded of why I chose recovery when I do these things. For one, if I had stayed the same then I wouldn’t have the energy or capability to do it. I might not even be here. Yet it also reminds me because I have to put a positive spin at the end of my story. I have to repeat my motivations, my hopes and plans to the people who sit in front of me and after a while, I start to listen to myself. I want this because I want to go back to my education, because I have a new nephew who I want to see grow up and because I have a little brother who has never known me well. These are just a few reasons and they alone would be enough but I also have many more. I think about how ridiculous I have been over the years, how stuck I’ve let myself be and in the end how lost I actually became. It makes me feel so sad for that potential of a person. Instead I became a number, a collection of medical notes, a statistic, a list of symptoms, several diagnosis’ and who I was inside didn’t matter. All that mattered was the risks that I presented. It’s so easy to lose your identity in the system and to also have your self taken over by the Eating Disorder. I became it and it devoured me. Constantly my nurse reminds me that it is something separate but I question that when I am not so great. If it lives and breathes and controls both your mind and body, then there is nothing left to claim as separate. If I am funny or smart or kind and I’m not born with these things then are they who I am or are they also separate? Something I can deny or ignore. Does that apply to the Anorexia too? There isn’t a right answer and I genuinely don’t know what the answer even is…only that I am confused. I want to believe that there is this little thing in my brain that I can cut away cleanly but it seems to be woven into all of my veins and vital organs. It is hard to have hope when you think like that but the despair is stronger tonight. The tiredness of living this life is too much for me to bear and I don’t want to curl up in a ball somewhere and stop breathing…I want it gone but I want me to be salvageable afterwards. Is that even possible? Am I making sense?

I have my CPA (a big meeting with all my team members to see how things are going and to plan future care) tomorrow and I’m not sure how I verbalise these kind of thoughts. Maybe I don’t. I just don’t want to go in there and say all the right things because that’s what’s expected of me whether I agree with them or not. It’s not getting me anywhere. I have been losing my voice in degrees for months and I have to get it back. It’s breaking my heart to make myself in to someone who isn’t real. It hasn’t been fine the way my world has been. The things that I am thinking are not fine either. Me wanting to lose weight again isn’t acceptable and I have to figure out how to explain that but for them to not abandon me with that thought because I still want recovery too.

I want more.

I don’t want people to keep looking at me like I’m broken. I don’t want to keep looking in the mirror and seeing that too.

This is such a random post and I’m sorry about that. I believe two different things at the same time and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with that.

I hope your day has been kind to you.

Does it end here?

8 May

A while back before my first time in treatment, I was entirely unaware of what I was doing to body. I had convinced myself that what I was doing and feeling was perfectly fine. I normalised the skipped heartbeats, the aches and the constant feeling of coldness. I came to believe that everyone saw stars when they stood up or the ground moved underneath them when they walked. I could tell myself this because I didn’t let anyone contradict me. I didn’t tell anyone and I refused to have my bloods taken or my weight checked. I made the people around me watch me getting weaker and wouldn’t let them do anything about it. Eventually it got to the point where I went into treatment and went through over a longish period of time. That was when I noticed that what I had been feeling before was not ok. I should have learnt but I didn’t and so when I started to go downhill again, I again tried to normalise it. You can make yourself get used to anything if you try hard enough. Yet I could never go back to being as ignorant as I had been before. I think I felt everything more acutely as well. The wear and tear of years of abuse began to mount up and it didn’t take as much to make my body struggle. That was one of the things that told me I needed to go back into treatment. It was the fact that I could not do my work in the manner that I wished and those missing heartbeats began to scare me. It was probably also fuelled further by caring about what I was doing to my body and the repercussions of my actions. I didn’t want to not wake up one day or to be laid in a hospital waiting as my organs slowly failed and no longer able to do anything about it. So I did what I had to do. I ate and got to a healthy weight, and I’m not going to lie, I hated every minute of it. I didn’t fall in love with food. It never stopped being a battle and the Anorexia was always there. I didn’t snap out of it. I didn’t discover that I like something and I’ve never been able to get excited about food. I know there is a lot of recovery stories out there where the individual can begin to get excited about all the food that they have denied themselves for so long. It was just never like that for me. It still isn’t. I think that’s why I find maintaining this weight, beyond body image and whatever psychological things that I have going on so hard.

Yet right now I am seeing more that that matters less as I begin to struggle more with my body. It’s letting me know at the moment that it’s not happy with me. Things are hurting again. Things are feeling weird. I’m not getting the things that I need from my diet and it’s showing in my blood work a bit. Things are dropping and although they may be staying in the normal range, the actual drop is something that my body isn’t dealing with very well. All day yesterday I was in pain. I woke up and was barely able to hold a cup. I was dizzy, nauseous, aching and when I looked in the mirror, I was surprised at how dark the circles under my eyes were. I don’t want this again. I am tired of the endless doctors appointments and blood tests. I’m tired of taking medication in the hope that it will fix me rather than cause more damage. I want to start again with a new body and make a promise that this time I will treat it better. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. You get one chance, one body and it is your responsibility to not screw it up beyond repair. I am only just beginning to learn that.

Maybe all this has to end here? Maybe it doesn’t matter if I can’t bear the sight of myself or if I feel hollow. Maybe it doesn’t matter if I want to climb out of my skin or minimise myself. Maybe all that does matter is that I stop taking out whatever is going on in my mind on my body. I want healthy. That was the goal…that was the plan. It still has to be.

I hope your day has been kind to you

New Plan

6 May

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen anyone in my care team. I’ve kind of being letting things slip but not in a way that is noticeable if you weren’t looking. The excuses came first, then the reasoning for what I was doing and finally the acceptance. In the beginning I had a full meal plan, it was the one I was discharged with and the one that I was told would see me maintaining my weight and then the three steps mentioned above fell into action. First I took something out of my plan because I told myself that I was too busy/tired/stress for it and that I would make up for it later. The second part was that I then told myself that it was ok because my weight was holding and I was still functioning therefore I didn’t really need that thing in my diet. The last thing, my acceptance, well that was me saying that it was now firmly out of my diet and so I could not put it back in and I made myself be ok with that. I know though that it won’t end there. It won’t just be that one thing to go, it’ll be landslide of all things eventually if I let it go unchecked any longer. My dietician came today to see me and I told her some of this and she asked me what did I want to do now? Mostly I wanted to say to run away and pretend this isn’t happening but instead I told her that I need to stop this spiral. I don’t want it to carry on and she said that that is currently one of their concerns. If I don’t get a grip on this now then it’s only going to get worse. We came up with a plan to change one thing and see how that goes. This means that I am going to have to trust her and even though she has never done anything to make me not, I still don’t. I said this to her and she asked me if it was me that didn’t trust her or the Eating Disorder? That made me think and when I did, I think it clicked that it is not me but the Anorexia trying to play its games with my mind again. I hate that it still has this much control and that I can’t make it be quiet at the moment. I get tired of hearing the same shit it has to say everyday and on some days, I get so tired that I want to quit recovery all together and tell it that it wins. I don’t want to fight it anymore and I’ll do anything to make it stop. I should know by now that that never works. I can do every thing right in its eyes and still it won’t be enough. It won’t make it stop. Sometimes that thought makes me feel more hopeless than I can describe. Despite that I have to try this new plan because I don’t want the alternative. I don’t want to become unwell in that way again. On the piece of paper that my dietician handed to me, after the discussion and me admitting I was worried that this was going to make my weight jump up and out of control, she wrote “You don’t know if you don’t try”. She’s right. I’ve never tried. I’ve never really maintained. I’ve never just done what I’m supposed to do without making my own tweaks or changes because I thought I knew better. It has to stop because clearly evidence tells me that I don’t know better.

I can’t leave it any longer and expect for it to get better on its own. That’s not going to happen and Uni is getting closer. I don’t have time for another relapse or the energy to lose myself again. I am seeing my Nurse on Monday for lunch and I guess we’ll see if I can or have put this new plan into action. I’m not ready to be optimistic about it but I can be realistic. If I don’t do this and I don’t prove to myself that I am capable then I might as well walk away from my future now instead of waiting to see it go up in smoke. At some point I am going to have to take a leap of faith and get over my whole trust issues because otherwise the only person that I am listening to is me…and I, I don’t have a great track record. It’s time to try something different.

I hope your day has been good to you.

Old Psych Life

1 May

Lately I’ve been working on a project for an organisation that I volunteer with. One of the things that I am doing for that is looking through its archives and exploring its history, in particular patients old patients files. These files go back to the late 1800’s and are filled with thousands of names and lives. Their stories scream at the page at me and all I want is to commit them all individual to my mind and remember them. I feel like someone has to acknowledge that these women mattered, that beyond the words such as ‘degraded’ and ‘deranged’ they were also people with felt and thought and dreamed. I have spent the day again today looking through the notes and I want to share with you a few that really hit me because in a way I could relate to them. Their diagnosis was Melancholia and these women had essentially given up. They refused to speak, to move, to engage with anyone. They wouldn’t eat or shower or take care of their personal needs. They all wasted over the space of a few months to a couple of years, requiring to be fed through a tube and in the end they all died in that hospital. Their cause of death was ruled as ‘Exhaustion from Melancholia’. They died from their sadness. It was too much for them, this life thing and it broke them. Reading about them though brought up a lot of personal stuff for me, things I don’t really like to think about anymore but still occasionally knock the wind out of me when I do. I don’t think I’ve made peace with it, even if I pretend to because I’m not sure a person can.

When I turned 18 I was trying to make myself stay in life again. I had given up at some point during my early teens but I was still optimistic enough to believe that maybe I could turn it around…or at the very least I could run away and avoid the chaos in my mind. I could pretend that I wasn’t sad and that it didn’t hurt me to breathe. I thought I could make it work but I couldn’t and not long after I officially became an adult then the cracks began to show all over again. That was where it began…the beginning of a time that I want to have not happened. I spent the years following that point mostly in hospital. Moving from one locked ward to another, the intensity of the environment increasing and decreasing whenever things shifted. I lost years screaming at people to let me go, physically fighting with people and being restrained, trying to run away…always trying to die. I didn’t care what it took from me or what I was doing to the people around me. I was walking around with all my nerve endings exposed and when you feel like that then you will do anything to make it stop. I fought, I lied, I did a lot of things that I am not proud of and each time it changed me. It took away piece of me that I could never recapture. It was so hopeless and I was also ready to give up. My last acute admission for general psych, before the Eating Disorder admissions, I had given up. I laid in my bed, day after day, my body still damaged from the last suicide attempt that I ever made and waited in the hope that I would just stop breathing. I had stopped crying by that point. I no longer had the energy to run away. I no longer had the will to fight. I was waiting them out because I knew that eventually they would have to. It might not be for weeks or months or longer but they would if I didn’t give them a reason to hold me. Several months passed and then I was released. I thought about trying to end it all again the day that I left and then I thought about it everyday afterwards. I didn’t and the only reason I had for that was because I didn’t want to fail again. I was tired of being a patient/prisoner in the system. I wanted to be left alone to disappear. It didn’t work and surprisingly despite my belief that things couldn’t get any worse, they did.

I don’t remember the day when it began to change. Maybe it was a collection of times that slowly appeared over time. Either way there wasn’t a sudden rush of a desire to live. I remember thinking that wishing for my own death was taken up too much energy and then I stopped caring altogether. What did it matter anymore? I felt barely anything. I thought about whether I could live the rest of my life waiting to die yet not doing anything about it. I decided I could. So I did that for a while. After a long time some feelings began to came back. I smiled every now and again. I thought about the next day, something I hadn’t done in years. Then I planned beyond that. I started to let life in. It wasn’t plain sailing and there were days when I went all the way back to the beginning. Yet I didn’t stay there for as long anymore. That happened during hospital admission number 2 for the Eating Disorder and I find myself still hovering between those points of wanting to let life in but equally wanting my world to end.

I’m telling you this because I need someone to understand how terrifying it is for me to be always a few steps away from slipping back into being that person again. I am struggling so much whilst having to work harder than ever to keep that mask super-glued to my face. I am tired and I’m hurting. I want to give up and hide but I want all of this to go away too and be fine. What concerns me is that I am getting to a point where I don’t care which one it is, I just need it to happen soon. I need my heart to stop hurting. I am so tired that I want to sleep for a while and wake up and for everything to be fine. My body will have stopped hurting. The Anorexia will have loosened its grip even if it just by a fraction. I will want to try again.

I feel so unbelievably alone.

I hope your day has been kind to you.

Crawling Back

26 Apr

I consider myself to be a pretty lucky person because I have a lot of really good people in my life. Over the years they have been there, even when I wouldn’t let them be. When I shut the world out and I shut them out, I thought that would be it. Friendships burnt to the ground for the sake of destruction. I really didn’t believe that once the flames had been put out, there would be anyone left. Yet they or most of them were still there waiting for me to drag myself out of my own hell because they knew that they couldn’t be the ones to do it. I’ve seen quite a few of my friends this week, trying to figure out where everyone is and what’s been going on for them has been nice. On Saturday I caught up with a woman who I’ve known for a while now and she’s one of those people who I never feel the need to minimise stuff with. We have the no bullshit rule in our friendship. We don’t lie to each other and by extension when are we together especially we don’t lie to ourselves. She asked me some questions about what was going on for me and I think I haven’t been that honest with anyone for a while. I think I realised that even when I thought I was telling people everything and being open with them, I’ve still been holding back. I haven’t told my treatment team that it is getting harder to make myself want recovery anymore because ultimately I don’t think I can stay at this weight. I feel horrible and uncomfortable, yet I also know how destroyed my body and mind will be if I go back. I don’t quite understand how I can know this and still want to crawl back to it like some pathetic puppy who even after its been kicked will return to its owner. That’s what I feel like! Like it owns me, that I am some puppet or toy and that I’m not really a valid human being. I’m struggling to believe that I have any autonomy left.

I want to be in a good place because I am so very tired of not being. I don’t know how to live without the Eating Disorder. I don’t know how I process life without having this as some kind of buffer to protect me from feeling all the things that I don’t want to be. It’s strange because I know that I can’t function with Anorexia but equally I’m not sure I can function without it. I’m not sure where this leaves me.

Mumblings about Today

24 Apr

I took a sunshine day yesterday. It’s a new thing I’m trying…and I’m kind of a fan. I bailed on my group and went to my Mothers house instead, where I sat in the garden and got some studying done. It was nice and necessary to help me correct my vitamin D deficiency plus I got to see my nephew (ridiculously gorgeous child) and hang out with my little brother for a bit before we had to go to his martial arts class. I am trying hard to settle into this life thing but that feeling like I don’t fit is something that I can’t shake. I’m not even sure how to explain it. It’s not an obvious thing though and you wouldn’t know unless you were looking closely or knew what to be looking for. If you did, you’d just see how everything’s a little out of sync but not be able to put your finger on exactly what.

Today I had to go to the dentist and he was not gentle with me. It was a new guy and I’m surprised my mouth is still in tact. He didn’t really say anything through out and then in the end told me I was going to be needing some extensive work done. Then he asked me if I had been eating a lot of sugar? I told him that I had just spent 5 months in treatment being made to eat desserts and high energy foods…so yea you could say that. I told him that I had an Eating Disorder and then his face fell a little. He looked embarrassed as he apologised because yes he had just read that in my notes and now felt like an idiot. There was a bit of an awkward silence…then he thought telling me that I looked ok now was the right thing to say next. He then gave me a lecture on smoking and if I was going to have to still eat cakes/sweets etc then to do it all at once. I go back two weeks to have the first appointment for the work that needs doing. I’m dreading it. The last time I had to, I fainted because of the drilling. It seems you can’t win, you screw up things by being ill, you screw up things by engaging in the treatment. Clearly the only answer is to have not even gone there in the first place.

Weirdly I also had to email my old psychiatrist from the psychiatric intensive care unit today. I met him the other night at this AGM he was giving a talk at. I was there to get him to agree to do an interview at a later date for one of our projects. I was terrified and even though logically I knew that I was free and could have left at any point, there was that fear that he was going to lock me up again. I felt like I was back on that ward a few times. Thankfully I don’t think he remembered me and if he did then he didn’t say anything. Listening to him was fascinating though and he has some really interesting thoughts that I could have talked to him for hours about. I’m glad that I went even if I was dreading it before and he’s agreed to take part in the project, so I’ve just done a follow-up email now. I should not have my old psych’s personal email address…part of me thinks it’s a crossing a line even if we are both pretending that we have no memories of each other but there isn’t much I can do about it. I need this for work stuff so…it’s just the way it is.

Food is not moving. So it’s not getting any more restrictive but neither is it getting better. There are so many excuses on the tip of my tongue for why I’m not challenging myself and I’m trying not to go there but it is so easy, so comfortable and familiar. I can’t go there. I want healthy even if I can’t get this image that I found of myself on my computer out of my head. It wasn’t better like that (repeat and repeat and repeat).

I hope your day has been good to you.

momvsed

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